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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, August 21, 2020
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Raptors, Celtics take 2-0 lead in playoff

 

Toronto reserve Norman Powell scored 12 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter as the defending champion Raptors rallied to beat Brooklyn, 104-99, in their NBA playoff series.

The Raptors took a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round clash, being played in the league's quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.

The Boston Celtics also seized a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference clash with Philadelphia, shrugging off the absence of injured Gordon Hayward to thrash the 76ers, 128-101.

The Raptors, who had converted 22 three-pointers in a game-one blowout of the Nets, connected on just 25.7 percent of their three-point attempts -- and 43.7 percent of shots overall -- under heavy defensive pressure from a Nets team eager to even the series.

But turnovers proved crucial, with eight Toronto giveaways leading to six Nets points while 17 Brooklyn turnovers resulted in 23 points for the Raptors.

Brooklyn, trailing by three with 15 seconds remaining, had a chance to force overtime but an ill-timed pass on their final possession led to a final, decisive turnover -- forced by Toronto's Kyle Lowry -- that sealed the win for the Raptors.

"We've been here before," said Toronto's Fred VanVleet, who delivered a double-double of 24 points and 10 assists. "You've just got to stick with it, weather the storm."

Meanwhile, Jayson Tatum was the star for Boston, scoring 33 points in a dominant victory over the 76ers.

Kemba Walker added 22 points and Jaylen Brown added 20 for a Celtics team that announced after their game one win that Hayward would be sidelined for several weeks with a sprained ankle.

Joel Embiid led the 76ers with 34 points and 10 rebounds.

In Western Conference action, Donovan Mitchell scored 30 points and handed out eight assists for the Utah Jazz, who cruised to a 124-105 victory over the Denver Nuggets that knotted their series at one game apiece.

It was a sweet reversal for Mitchell, who scored 57 points in a game-one overtime loss to the Nuggets.

The Jazz seized control in the second quarter, using a 2-9 scoring run to open a 61-48 halftime lead.

French center Rudy Gobert punctuated the half with a put-back dunk, and there were five minutes left to play in the fourth when Denver coach Mike Malone started looking toward Friday's game three, pulling starters Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.*AFP

 

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